Can Elections be Won by Candidate Recognition and Publicity Generated

Castleisland LEA candidate Michelle Keane addressing the peaceful protest at the gates of Ballymullen Barracks in Tralee on Sunday morning. Photograph: Moss Joe Browne.

If elections were won and lost by candidate recognition and the publicity generated in the run up to polling days then Knocknagoshel woman Michelle Keane would be home and dry.

In the past two and a half months or so she has elbowed her way onto the local political stage like no one has ever done before and in a way that made her impossible to ignore.

Prefacing stinging criticisms of fellow candidates with the ubiquitous ‘In my opinion’ she has created a social media storm of awareness around her candidacy – much of this from the comforts of her car and, tirelessly, on the go.

She has captured the imaginations and the minds of so much of the younger section of the population of her target audience in the Castleisland Electoral Area that it’s easy to visualise her succeeding in her mission of winning a seat.

Angry and Bold Expressions

Her statements on the migration policies of the current government may grate on the ears of a section of her audience.

However, it’s just what an increasingly worried level of her would-be constituents want to hear – though they won’t say so publicly – but they will angrily and boldly express their opinions in the secrecy and security which Friday will provide for them at their designated polling stations around the constituency.

Michelle Keane led a successful campaign by the people of Knocknagoshel against the construction and operation of an Eir telecommunications mast in the village over the past couple of years.

Style of Campaigning

From what we now know and understand about her style of campaigning it’s easy to see why those she encountered, on the Eir side of the argument, would fold their tent and gallop off into the sunset at a fair old clipity clop.

She took a stance against the ‘Yes campaign’ in the March 8th referendum and found herself in a minority.

The overwhelming defeat of the government proposals meant that she was part of an outpouring of nationwide celebration on the Saturday of the count and of the defeat of the proposal – a result which caught the government and most of the opposition parties off guard.

Ballymullen Barracks

Her latest call for a peaceful protest materialised at the gates of the very much in focus Ballymullen Barracks in Tralee on Sunday morning after Fianna Fáil TD Jim O’Callaghan told RTÉ News that the incoming migrant crisis in Dublin would have to have safety valves in various parts of the country. In that he specifically mentioned Ballymullen Barracks as one of the destinations being planned for use in the ongoing crisis.

Ms. Keane was joined in the protest by fellow local election candidates from the Tralee and other areas except her own and a European election hopefuls, Mary Fitzgibbon, Ballymacelligott and by the Cratloe, Co. Clare based farmer, Eddie Punch.

The Sunday morning protest was covered by Niamh Uí Bhriain of GriptMedia and you can read it with a click on the link below.

Residue of Anger

Believe it or not but there’s a lingering residue of anger hanging around us over what we were all put through during the Covid pandemic.

And there’s a growing concern over the worrying numbers of deaths of people who could have reasonably expected a few more years of health and happiness.

Like it or not, there’s a deepening distrust of the direction in which our political leaders are taking us against our good will and nature – and this too was reflected in the referendum result in March.

And there’s a feeling amongst decent, ordinary people that we’re being taken for fools by government policy going back to what we were told in the run-up to that referendum.

Far Right or Far Wrong?

The people who dare to voice their opinions on the rapidly changing culture and nature of our country have now been daubed with one broad sweep of denunciation as a ‘far right’ faction.

For daring to stand up for the communities they have invested their lives in and for having the cheek to voice concerns about what the government decides to inject into their midst – does this make them far right ? And if it does, does it make them too far wrong?

If the support, that’s being vocalised now amongst the young voters in her constituency, hardens up to actual votes, then Michelle Keane will be adding the prefix Cllr. to her name on Saturday evening – or soon afterwards in the event of a recount – In my opinion.

Go Out and Vote on Friday

Whatever your political persuasion, go out and vote on Friday. You have lots of time on the day as the stations will be open between the hours of 7am to 10pm.

You’ll know who has worked for you and you’ll know those you haven’t really seen since the last election. And you’ll have to take a punt on the new candidates who have been brave enough to put themselves out there.

Bring some item of positive identification to your designated polling booth to avoid any delays there.

We have just been through a couple of years of feet on the street commemorations. There are plaques, memorials and statues in every town and village throughout Ireland to people who died defending their communities so that the generations following them would have the freedom and the rights to vote.

See the Gript Media report on Sunday’s peaceful protest at Ballymullen Barracks with a click on the link here:

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